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Is that Kafka?: 99 Finds [Hardcover]

Is that Kafka?: 99 Finds [Hardcover]

Is that Kafka?: 99 Finds [Hardcover]

By Reiner Stach

Out of the massive research for an authoritative 1,500-page biography emerges this wunderkammer of 99 delightfully odd facts about Kafka.

"If, like me, you are wary of delving into a three-volume account of the life of an ascetic and self-tormenting insurance lawyer, Stach has by some inexplicable thunderbolt of inspiration supplemented his enormous undertaking with a separate volume of biographical detritus, which he suggestively calls ‘counter-images’, titled Is that Kafka? 99 Finds."—Morten Høi Jensen, Los Angeles Review of Books

"A mishmash of ephemera, curiosities and confessionals, the finds range from the banal to the deeply personal, yet collectively paint as engaging and illustrative a portrait of the artist as any I’ve read."—Pasha Malla, Globe and Mail

"Each turn Stach makes adds nuance to his skillfully collaged portrait of Kafka."—Evan James, Quarterly Conversation

In the course of compiling his highly acclaimed three-volume biography of Kafka, while foraying to libraries and archives from Prague to Israel, Reiner Stach made one astounding discovery after another: unexpected photographs, inconsistencies in handwritten texts, excerpts from letters, and testimonies from Kafka’s contemporaries that shed surprising light on his personality and his writing. Is that Kafka? presents the crystal granules of the real Kafka: he couldn’t lie, but he tried to cheat on his high-school exams; bitten by the fitness fad, he avidly followed the regime of a Danish exercise guru; he drew beautifully; he loved beer; he read biographies voraciously; he made the most beautiful presents, especially for children; odd things made him cry or made him furious; he adored slapstick. Every discovery by Stach turns on its head the stereotypical version of the tortured neurotic―and as each one chips away at the monolithic dark Kafka, the keynote, of all things, becomes laughter.

For Is that Kafka? Stach has assembled 99 of his most exciting discoveries, culling the choicest, most entertaining bits, and adding his knowledge-able commentaries. Illustrated with dozens of previously unknown images, this volume is a singular literary pleasure.

352 pages
New Directions, 2016
5.8 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
ISBN 9780811221238

$27.95 $27.95